The inventors of the Hyperloop believe that traveling at the speed of sound will be possible one-day over land. The inventors of the technology theorize that travel in pods through a tube in a partial vacuum is possible at speeds of up to 1,200 kilometers per hour. Engineers around the world are working on the technology to make these theoretical speeds possible for real-world transportation.
Once again, students from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) won the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition held near Los Angeles, a speed competition for pod prototypes.
Equipped with more than 420 Infineon chips, the pod attained a velocity of 463.5km/h. This speed, for example, would shorten the trip from Munich to Hamburg to about one hour and 15 minutes (not including acceleration or braking phases). The team left its competitors lagging well behind. In fact, their pod was more than 200km/h faster than the one that came in second.
“Four wins in a row in the Hyperloop Competition underscore the enormous technological expertise of the students,” says Hans Adlkofer, Vice President Automotive Systems at Infineon. “They also highlight the major role that precise and robust electronics will play in the future of mobility. We are excited for the TUM Hyperloop team and congratulate it on its fascinating success.”
Infineon sponsored the TUM team and supplied the team pod’s key components. In addition, the students gave the pod electronics the final touches at Infineon’s El Segundo location near Los Angeles.
The pod employs eight electric motors that are controlled using 288 power semiconductors from Infineon. These chips control the flow of current into the motor with thousands of switching processes per second. These switching processes produce the rapidly changing magnetic fields that drive the motor.
In addition, 24 sensors from Infineon provide information about the rotor position in the motors. This data is required to precisely time the switching processes.
As well as in the drive, the TUM Hyperloop also employs 112 power components from Infineon in the main battery switches. With their help, the flow of current from the battery can be switched off in a fraction of a second. This fast turn-off feature is required for maintenance work or in case of accidents, to protect people from electric shocks.
The Hyperloop concept comes from SpaceX founder Elon Musk. He introduced the idea in 2013 as a faster and cheaper alternative to conventional means of transport. It should also considerably reduce energy consumption because there is very little air resistance in the partial vacuum tubes and the pods move with almost no friction using magnetic levitation technology.
The SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition took now place for the fourth time. The TUM Hyperloop team – previously known as WARR Hyperloop – presented the fastest pod each time.
This year, the TUM team, beat a total of 20 other teams from the U.S., Asia, Australia, and Europe.
For the final run, three other teams qualified; Delft Hyperloop from Delft University of Technology (Netherlands), EPFLoop from École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (Switzerland), and Swissloop from ETH Zurich (Switzerland).
In the 19th century, a trip on Germany’s first railroad line from Nuremberg to Fürth (6.2 km) took about 15 minutes. A pod traveling at 463.5 km/h could almost reach Augsburg in that time (121 km). In another example, the roughly 28-kilometer trip between the stadiums of German soccer clubs Borussia Dortmund and FC Schalke 04 would take 3 minutes and 37 seconds in such a pod.
At such a speed, one could travel 877 kilometers between the Federal Chancellery in Berlin and the Elysée Palace in Paris – or just one hour and 54 minutes with the pod. The country-spanning distance of 4,130 kilometers between San Francisco and New York would take eight hours and 55 minutes with the pod.